Año’s admits NCR COVID-19 rebound possible under Alert Level 3

The resurgence of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) high infection rate in Metro Manila is possible as the alert level status for restrictions was downgraded to revive the economy, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año on Saturday, Oct. 16.

This was Año’s reaction to the concern of health expert Dr. Tony Leachon that the eased quarantine restrictions in the National Capital Region (NCR) from Oct. 16 to 31 may cause a rebound of COVID-19 cases.

Leachon in an interview over ABS-CBN News recognized the improved COVID-19 cases with the 7,625 tally on Oct. 15 but stressed that the testing is still low and the positivity rate remains high.

Even with the possibility of a COVID-19 surge in Metro Manila, Año’s said “we have to manage the risk’’ assuring that the PNP (Philippine National Police) together with the LGUs (local government units) will strictly enforce the minimum public health standards and prevent mass gathering.’’

He pointed out that the “LGUs must also be quick to impose granular lockdown on areas where there are (COVID-19) transmissions.’’

The DILG is currently conducting a probe to determine whether health protocols were violated in the event where Senator and presidential bet Manny Pacquiao admitted distributing rice and P1,000 cash to a huge crowd in Batangas on Oct. 14.

“The report we received from Batangas is just a raw report and we are waiting for the formal report from the PNP on the matter. Investigation is currently ongoing,’’ the DILG said in a GMA News report.

“One good thing in NCR is that 79 percent of the eligible population is already vaccinated,’’ Año added.

But Leachon said “kung magbubukas tayo ng economy at ang testing natin mababa, nasa 49,000 na dapat sa ganito gumagawa tayo ng 100,000, pagbukas natin mag-rebound yan in two weeks or one month kasi kailangan mapanatili nating mababa (COVID-19 cases) (If we open the economy and testing is low, only at 49,000 when we should be at 100,000, we could experience a rebound in two weeks or one month because we need to maintain the low cases).’’

On Oct. 15, the DILG stated that the areas outside NCR that can be placed under the Alert level system were already “identified’’.

However, Densing did not mention the provinces, cities, and municipalities besides Metro Manila where the Alert Level System will be implemented.

Currently, the Alert Level System with granular lockdowns is being pilot tested in Metro Manila as the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) remained a dangerous threat despite the dip in cases in NCR in recent weeks.

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año earlier explained that the health protocols in Metro Manila will be relaxed from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3 beginning Oct. 16 to 31 as data revealed that that NCR has “already attained the vaccination rate of 80 percent of eligible population.’’

On Oct. 14, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya reminded the establishments to check the vaccination cards of their customers ahead of the relaxed COVID-19 restrictions in Metro Manila.

“Especially in indoor establishments. The personnel should demand vaccination cards from all dine-in customers,” Malaya said in a GMA News report.

Under Alert Level 3, several establishments will be allowed to operate at 30 percent indoor venue capacity for fully vaccinated individuals only and 50 percent outdoor venue capacity as long as all employees are fully vaccinated.

Under the Inter-Agency Task Force guidelines, Alert Level Systems covers the entire cities or municipalities where granular lockdowns are imposed in smaller areas with high COVID-19 cases.

Launched in Sept. 16, the health classification ladder ranges from Alert Level 1 having the most relaxed protocol up to Alert Level 5 which has the strictest restrictions. (Chito A. Chavez)